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Is Your Website Wearing a Jacket and Tie?

By Lars Jensen
Posted Sunday, November 28, 2004

Almost all web sites are stores or offices that have been placed online. If you have a store or office, it needs to be "translated" into th virtual environment. Unfortunately, this is where many companies or private owners make their biggest mistake.

The Internet is a virtual environment. Every single thing you see is non-tangible. Your visitors cannot actually hold your product or service in their hands. They cannot feel it, smell it, taste it or hear it. You can only work within a limited environment; the Internet. So how do you sell a product or service you offer if your visitors can only see it in this virtual environment?

You simply work with what you have and make it better than your competitor's.

Almost all web sites are stores or offices that have been placed online. If you have a store or office, it needs to be "translated" into a virtual environment. Unfortunately, this is where many companies or private owners make their biggest mistake. It's the actual process of transferring this location on to the Internet, to your web pages. Those who have offices may not necessarily have an advantage as they might already have a head start or something to start with. As stated earlier, the Internet is virtual meaning your limits are basically your imagination.

This is where web design comes into place. Have you ever noticed how some places you walk into, all the staff are nicely dressed with jacket and tie, greeted with a smile and all their products are displayed very nicely. This is not done by coincidence. There is of course a reason for this. This is where the office has to, again, translate this service and quality to their website. The great part about this is that your web pages have limitless possibilities.

You may be renting space for your office or store, but you of course have not built your own building or office space. That is left up to the engineers and building contractors. On the Internet it is much the same way. You rent space from a web host provider and decide on a look or web design template which will basically make up the interior of your store or office.

Templates can range in price from nothing to no more than $80 or so. Any designs ranging in the hundreds or thousands of dollars are web designs done by individuals and who sell a design to only one customer. There is no need for any personal and complicated web designer consultations or "cost-per-hour" fees which can very easily mount to over a few hundred dollars per design when purchasing templates. You do not have to worry about unpredictable or unsatisfactory end results with other private designers as you are able to preview the design before purchasing a template. If you would prefer to be the only website to have a certain design and be willing to pay $300 minimum, then go for it. There are, however over 3 billion web pages on the Internet, so the chances of someone else having the same design you do is probably at least a few million pages away!

What some people discover, is that if you have purchased a web page editor, like FrontPage, you do not necessarily know how to design a web page yourself. There are many What You See Is What You Get editors (WYSIWYG) available to make editing pages much easier, but designing a professional website can still prove to be a difficult task. Templates can easily make this process much easier and lend a helping hand. A highly recommended web page editing program is Selida, (do a search for "Selida" on Google to download this program) which is also free. Please be warned that not all free editors are capable of editing templates. Ask the company that is selling the web templates if your software can edit the templates.

The following are a few pointers to think about when choosing a web design template:

Consider the entrance to your virtual store, (your index.html page).

Is it large enough, noticeable, professional looking, too gloomy, too serious? etc. What is the first impression you get? Is it better than your current store or office? (if you have one of course, or copy one you admire) Do you have the opportunity to make it better than your current store? Does it reflect the image you want to reveal?

How is the virtual office or store inside? (your sub-pages.html and products.html) Does it look fully staffed?

How can you make it fully staffed? Add pictures of people or your staff. Add a "This page last updated on..." on some of your pages so visitors know that there is activity on your site. Your visitors or customers do not want to be the only one's purchasing your products. Add a forum. Let your visitors email your support. Do you have an "about us" page so your visitors really know who you are? If you are a "one-man-show" use "us" and "we" instead of I. Please keep in mind that not all visitors or customers wish for a big company but would rather talk on a one-to-one basis. "We" or "us" is not necessarily better than "I".

How is the product placement? Have you ever not been able to find a product in a store? Why? What was the reason? Have you avoided the problem on your web pages?

The ordering of the service or product is just as important. When people purchase products in a store, they feel safe about where their money is going; to the cashier. Again, on the Internet, everything is virtual. Your customers do not hand out the money to you, they type in a few numbers on a web page and assume it is processed securely and safely. The professionalism and quality of your web design will help prove that somewhat. A cheap looking website will easily become a hindrance to your visitors, regardless if the service or product you sell is what they want.

How is your ordering process? Is it just like in the stores in town? Is there a smile there to greet them? Is it too serious or too unprofessional looking? Does it look secure and safe? Do your visitors understand how their orders are processed, how secure their orders are and how they obtain your service or product?

A useful tool is to also compare your site to your competition. You can always learn a few things about how they have designed their site. Try and find out what are some of the positive characteristics of their site design and what are some of the negative characteristics. How can you make yours better? There is a saying that if your competitor opens up shop, you place yours right next to theirs but make it better. There is more publicity for you and more visitors visiting the better of the two, whichever one that is, is up to you.

About the Author
Plausibility is a term that is most often overlooked in regards to web hosting. Their goal is to educate the reader and at the same time, improve their hosting services. For more infromation and articles please visit


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